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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Well, all good things must come to an end, and eventually I'll finish writing about last week. But before I do, here are a couple of well-groomed youngsters with matching comb-overs...

Big Sis's hair looks good enough to eat. Which explains why Toby grabbed a handful and started chomping...

That photo was taken late on Saturday morning, shortly before we left Devizes for a lunch date in the sticks. Big Sis had arranged for her cleaner to do an extra weekend shift in order to rid her home of the inevitable layer of grime and filth we were bound to leave behind, and the woman turned up early before we'd even gone. Anyone would think she was keen to earn those double-time wages. As a result, I was forced to load the last of our luggage into the boot while the domestic staff commented on the state of my car. Frankly I was glad to get away.

But not as glad as I was to arrive at our next destination. We were booked in for lunch here...

That's The Cricketers Inn in Longparish. I thought Devizes was out in the sticks, but this place was even stickier. In a wicket kind of a way. Longparish is a small village in the Test Valley (which is like Silicon Valley in beta) and judging by their website, there's more going on there than in Brighton.

As it happens, we weren't in town to attend the Smooth Movers exercise class or to view the signed photo of David Gower on the wall of the Cricketers Inn, we were actually there to have lunch with an invalid. Yes, if you're wondering what the public face of retinal screening looks like in the 21st century, here's your answer...

Most people on sick leave spend their time wrestling sharks, but if you're really up for a challenge, you can manhandle my daughter instead. The lady on the left is one of this nation's finest eye screening professionals, but tragically she's been forced to take some time out from saving sight, after she had an Alien moment in B&Q and ended up impersonating John Hurt by the fitted kitchens. Having been operated on extensively (although not in the cosmetic way she'd hoped for), she's no longer allowed to lift anything heavier than a knife and fork, so carrying an entire screening programme is out of the question.

But stuffing herself in my company is fine. So we met her and her husband for lunch. And very nice it was too. The concept of a latte hasn't yet reached the village of Longparish, and neither has the printed menu, but having made our food selections from a blackboard whilst sipping a simple coffee, I'm pleased to report that they make the world's finest Steak & Stilton Pie. No, really. Admittedly, I've never actually had Steak & Stilton Pie anywhere else, but I can't believe it could be bettered. It was genuinely fantastic, and I'd consider driving the hundred miles back there just to have it again.

But it wasn't just me who did well out of the meeting. Lisa got a bunch of flowers; Toby got some socks and some stacking cups; while Amelie received an array of gifts, including a Gruffalo Terrible Claws Bath Mitt and some Knobbly Knees Bath & Shower Gel. It has a "Woodland Mist Scent" for that genuine deep, dark wood experience. She also got a 'Boat in a Bottle' kit, which she's bound to have a smashing time with.

The best gift was reserved for me though. I received a pen which says 'DON'T BE BLIND TO DIABETES' in big friendly letters which are large enough for the vision impaired to be able to see. It features a spring-loaded pull-out mini-banner which, in addition to catching the loose skin on the wrinkled hands of a pensioner, informs the reader that "Screening is quick, easy and free of charge".

A lot like our lunch. We were out of there in an hour and a half, and our companions paid for the meal. Which was particularly embarrassing, as we could barely fit all their presents in the car. I think I'll start saving for our next meeting now.


Phil's Mum said...

You certainly have some nice friends. What do you have to do to collect gifts wherever you go?

Phil said...

It's a matter of finding people with a generous spirit and a selfless, giving nature, and then blackmailing them.

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